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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...


EXCLUSIVE: Bombshell dossier stolen at Tayside police HQ

May 10 2013

Police are investigating the alleged theft of a top-secret dossier on Tayside Police’s last chief constable from a secure unit in their own Dundee headquarters. It is understood the file was compiled last year by Angela Wilson, who was deputy chief constable of Tayside Police before the creation of a single national force, and detailed a series of allegations of unprofessional behaviour made against former chief constable Justine Curran and her deputy Gordon Scobbie. The Courier understands the dossier was being kept in the executive corridor in Bell Street. This is an area that is kept locked at all times and is only accessible to senior staff who are given the necessary access code. A source told The Courier that the theft is being treated so seriously officers from Strathclyde have been brought in to Dundee to carry out the investigation. The source claimed they have been searching for traces of DNA and fingerprints in the executive corridor to help them find who has stolen the file. Offices of the force’s confidential unit, which carried out the investigation into the “Sweeney style” methods used by the drugs squad, have also been searched. All drugs squad officers were cleared of the accusations of over-zealous policing. It is understood the dossier includes information relating to the former chief constable’s inappropriate conduct regarding a sex text she sent to her personal assistant, Theresa Noble. Ms Curran is alleged to have sent a text about the size of a colleague’s manhood. Although she had admitted behaving unprofessionally, Ms Curran was given the full backing of Tayside Police Joint Board. Ms Noble and her former partner Paul Martin were arrested a few weeks after the texts were sent in connection with alleged insurance fraud and wasting police time. Charges were dropped against Ms Noble when she agreed to act as witness againstMartin, who was later found not guilty of both charges. Ms Noble’s mobile phone was taken as evidence during the police’s investigation into Noble and Martin. The Courier understands one of the claims made against Ms Curran and Mr Scobbie is that staff were told to delete Ms Curran’s inappropriate texts. The source said: “No more than a dozen officers have access to that area and some civilian staff.A major inquiry team from Strathclyde has been over investigating for the past three or four weeks. “They’ve been taking DNA samples andfingerprints and the confidential unit has also been searched.” Tayside Police was abolished when Scotland’s eight forces were merged into one, national body on April 1. No executive officers from Tayside were given promoted posts within Police Scotland. Gordon Scobbie is now retired and Ms Curranis chief constable ofHumberside Police. She was appointed chief constable of Tayside Police in 2010 and her time as top cop in Tayside was often dogged by controversy. As well as the humiliation she suffered when her texts to Ms Noble were revealed, The Courier was also sent a dossier containing a number of potentially damaging allegations made about Ms Curran by an anonymous group calling themselves “Staff loyal to Tayside Police.” These were handed into the force but Tayside Police Joint Board dismissed all the allegations 12 days later, claiming they were “without foundation”. A spokesman for Police Scotland said: “Police Scotland are conducting an inquiry into a theft from within Tayside division headquarters in Dundee.As this is an ongoing investigation, it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time.” For the latest on this story, see Saturday's Courier or try our digital edition.


Post described as “poisoned chalice” in wake of ex-Tayside top cop resignation

April 29 2017

Replacing a scandal-hit former Tayside Police chief’s “cursed” post is proving a £159,000-a-year poisoned chalice. Humberside Police has been forced to re-open the application process for candidates to put themselves forward to be the force’s next Chief Constable after only one suitable candidate applied. Interviews for the position of Chief Constable – in the wake of what is being described as “the Currangate debacle” - were due to take place this week but have been delayed to allow for a “competitive interview process”. Potential applicants have now been set an extended deadline to be considered for the role following Justine Curran’s enforced retirement. A police source said: “It’s a disaster but it can’t be surprising that there have been no takers for this particular poisoned chalice. “Curran’s time in office was dogged with controversy and she was effectively sacked so why would anyone want to take this on when it could be a career ender?” Ms Curran recently stepped down following a vote of no confidence from staff and before the publication of a critical inspection report which said the force had been failing victims of crime. Her tenure at the head of the force was the shortest since its creation in 1974 and she had been labelled Humberside Police’s “virtually invisible” top officer. Ms Curran made the switch to Humberside in 2013 after three years at the helm
of law enforcement strategy in Dundee, Angus and Perthshire which was not without controversy. A spokesman for the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Humberside said: “The vacancy for the post of Chief Constable for Humberside Police was advertised widely and applications were originally closed on April 2. “Following the shortlisting process we only found one candidate that met the expectations of the panel. “To enable a competitive process the panel agreed that they would like to go back out to the market and see if there was any additional interest in the post. “The OPCC welcomes the opportunity to discuss the role in more detail with any potential candidate that feels they may like to find out more.” Ms Curran was appointed deputy chief constable of Tayside Police in February 2009, taking the top job a year later when Kevin Mathieson stepped down. In 2012 she was embarrassed after an internal probe discovered she had sent text messages to her former PA about the size of a colleague’s manhood. Another investigation was carried out after an anonymous three-page document listing a raft of complaints about her behaviour was submitted to The Courier and then passed to Tayside Police. She was cleared of all allegations made against her before the document was allegedly stolen from a secure unit in 
Tayside Division headquarters in Dundee’s Bell Street. An investigation was dropped without the culprit being found. Ms Curran, had been due to retire in September 2018, but announced her departure earlier this year, saying the “time is right” to leave. According to the brief, the successful Humberside candidate “must be able to demonstrate a strong commitment to serving the public and a collaborative style of working with fellow officers, myself and partners to deliver excellent services for the public.” A recent inspection carried out by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) in September graded the overall effectiveness of the force as “requires improvement” and stated that there was “serious concern” within Humberside Police.

Dundee FC

Dundee 0 Ross County 0: Dark Blues draw at Dens

December 10 2016

Dundee fought out a dogged draw with Ross County at Dens, a result that suited neither side. Both teams had chances to win the game but a combination of good goalkeeping and poor finishing ensured the contest ended goalless. Dundee boss Paul Hartley made two changes from the team that lined up at Kilmarnock last week with Kevin Gomis replacing Julen Etxabeguren and Jesse Curran coming in for James Vincent who dropped to the bench. It was 20-year-old Australian midfielder Curran’s first competitive start for the Dark Blues. The first chance of the game fell to the Staggies in the third minute. Chris Routis sent a corner in from the right with the ball falling perfectly for skipper Andrew Davies 12 yards out but his sharp shot flew straight into Dundee keeper’s Scott Bain’s arms. The Dark Blues had a chance of their own shortly after but Craig Wighton’s low shot was easily saved by County keeper Scott Fox. After that early flurry, the two sides struggled to fashion clear-cut opportunities with both goalies rarely called into action. However, Dundee came agonisingly close to taking the lead in the 41st minute when a Tom Hateley corner from the right was turned on by Darren O’Dea towards defensive partner Kosta Gadzhalov at the back post but the Bulgarian was just inches short of connecting for what would have been a tap-in. Just two minutes after the restart, the Staggies did have the ball in the back of the Dundee net courtesy of a Liam Boyce header but it was chalked off for a push on Gadzhalov. Wighton went close in the 55th minute when he sent a dipping shot just inches wide of Fox’s right-hand post from 18 yards. After that there was little goalmouth action to excite the 4,742 spectators inside Dens as the half progressed. County had a great chance to break the deadlock in the 73rd minute but Routis dragged his shot wide when he should have at least hit the target. The Staggies then had an incredible let-off at the other end. Dundee’s Marcus Haber found himself with Fox’s goal at his mercy eight yards out and with the home fans ready to celebrate what they thought was a certain goal, the big striker lashed his shot wide. Both sides were going for the jugular now and Bain had to produce an outstanding save to keep out an Alex Schalk bullet header. However, neither side could find a way to goal with the game ending in stalemate. For full report, reaction and analysis, see Monday’s Courier.


Former Tayside Police chief gets £39,000 to move

November 12 2015

Former Tayside Police chief Justine Curran claimed £39,000 when she moved to Humberside, new research has uncovered. Ms Curran made the switch as Scotland’s eight regional forces merged into one, after three years at the helm of law enforcement strategy in Angus, Dundee and Perthshire. Humberside Police said Ms Curran’s expenses were incurred for “removal/relocation” when she headed south. Items permitted for payment included mortgage interest or rent for up to 26 weeks, legal fees, estate agents and surveyor’s fees, stamp duty, registration fees, removal costs and domestic fittings. A personal tax liability was incurred on amounts received above the current HMRC limit of £8,000, the force added. A spokeswoman said: “These expenses were all paid on production of receipts and were reimbursed in accordance with police regulations in respect of the sale of the former home and the acquisition of the new one.” The figures came to light as part of a major investigation by the TaxPayers’ Alliance into how much public sector bosses receive in wages and top ups. It was also reported that Police Scotland’s top brass were granted more than £500,000 in housing payments last year, while 2,500 staff were axed. An average of £2,900 was claimed by each of the 177 top officers and staff members who banked the allowance. Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “The men and women working in these services do tough, dangerous jobs for which the public are grateful, but that only makes it even more infuriating when those at the top continue to get taxpayer-funded deals and pay-offs that are completely out of step with reality. “Necessary savings are being made and this reality must be reflected in the pay packages for the top brass.” A Police Scotland spokesman said: “Officers receive allowances they’re entitled to under the terms and conditions.” The findings were made public as it emerged that a former judges’ watchdog, a top lawyer and a veteran local government policymaker were among the prominent names appointed to conduct a review into police accountability. Scottish Police Authority (SPA) chairman Andrew Flanagan unveiled the reference group that will inform his review of governance in policing. The review was ordered following multiple controversies including widespread use of stop-and-search, a roll-out of armed police throughout Scotland, the death in custody of Sheku Bayoh, control room problems linked to two deaths on the M9, a spiralling budget shortfall, and the early departure of inaugural Chief Constable Sir Stephen House.

Angus & The Mearns

Enforced retirement for former Tayside Police chief Justine Curran

April 7 2017

A former Tayside Police chief is planning for life after law enforcement following more trouble at the top. The application period for the vacant position of Chief Constable of Humberside Police has now closed following Justine Curran’s enforced retirement. She recently stepped down following a vote of no confidence from staff and before the publication of a critical inspection report which said the force had been failing victims of crime. Her tenure at the head of the force was the shortest since its creation in 1974 and she had been labelled Humberside Police’s “virtually invisible” top officer. A Humberside Police spokesman said a number of applications had been received and would be shortlisted ahead of interviews on April 26. The five-year appointment, which carries a salary of between £130,291 and £159,244, has been described as “a real opportunity to change the mood of the workforce in Humberside Police”. Ms Curran made the switch to Humberside in 2013 after three years at the helm
of law enforcement strategy in Angus, Dundee and Perthshire. She was appointed deputy chief constable of Tayside Police in February 2009, taking the top a year later when Kevin Mathieson stepped down. Ms Curran’s tenure on Tayside was not without controversy. In 2012 she was embarrassed after an internal probe discovered she had sent text messages to her former PA about the size of a colleague’s manhood. Another investigation was carried out after an anonymous three-page document listing a raft of complaints about her behaviour was submitted to The Courier and then passed to Tayside Police. She was cleared of all allegations made against her. The document was allegedly stolen from a secure unit in
the Tayside Division headquarters in Dundee’s Bell Street. An investigation was dropped without the culprit being found. Ms Curran was born in Sheffield and raised in Parbold, Lancashire. After graduating from Hull University with a degree in classics, she joined Greater Manchester Police in 1989, initially working as a police constable in Wigan. She was subsequently promoted to the rank of sergeant in 1991, inspector in 1995 and chief inspector in 1998. In 2003, she was appointed chief superintendent of Greater Manchester Police (GMP), rising to the rank of assistant chief constable in 2007. In this role, she was in charge of the counter terrorism unit in the north west. In 2010, she took up her first leading appointment as chief constable of Tayside Police. She took over at Humberside in 2013 – the same year she was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal. In a recent staff survey, 67% said they either disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement: ‘I have confidence in the chief officers and senior managers leading Humberside Police’. Ms Curran, had been due to retire in September 2018, but announced her departure, saying the “time is right” to leave.


Margaret Curran says Labour needs to hold ‘honest conversation’ with Scots voters

March 7 2013

Labour must gain people’s trust if it wants to win back ground lost to the SNP in Dundee, the shadow secretary for Scotland has admitted. Margaret Curran said having an “honest conversation” with voters about how to improve living standards and tackle economic problems was the route the party would take in an attempt to recover from a Scottish decimation over recent years. At one point, all Dundee’s Parliamentary representatives and the city council were Labour-controlled. Now, though, the local authority is an SNP majority and the only national Labour politicians in the city are Dundee West MP Jim McGovern and list MSP Jenny Marra. In an interview with The Courier ahead of a question and answer session at Discovery Point tonight at 7pm, Ms Curran also claimed Labour’s energy plans would save over 15,000 pensioners in the city up to £200 a year on gas and electricity bills. She said: “Dundee really matters to us and we really want to win back support and trust in Dundee. There’s no hiding the fact Scottish Labour has been through a difficult period and now the challenge is re-engaging and gathering trust. “I think the most important thing is to be honest with people, hear what people are saying and respond to their issues. The point is about having answers to the biggest challenges and we need to have an honest conversation with people.” Labour plans to scrap Ofgem the energy regulator it set up and create a new watchdog with a statutory duty to monitor wholesale and retail energy prices. The new body would also have the power to force energy suppliers to pass on price cuts when the cost of wholesale energy falls and there would be a legal requirement for energy companies to put all over-75s on their cheapest tariff. “Ofgem is not living up to the challenges of the current time since the years when we set it up,” said Ms Curran. “In Government you need to understand when circumstances change you have to change with it. “At the core of this, we have to reform the markets. With the big six, when wholesale prices shoot up all bills go up but when wholesale prices drop prices don’t come down and that is crippling families. “People are asking how do they heat their homes? How do they pay for food or bills? We need active intervention in the energy markets.” Ms Curran, who branded the so-called Bedroom Tax “unfair” said the next UK General Election would be a “living standards election” and claimed people will have seen several years of falling living standards by the time the vote comes round. She claimed Labour’s policy to reinstate the 10p tax rate introduced then scrapped under former Prime Minister Gordon Brown would benefit 2.2 million basic rate taxpayers in Scotland. Ms Curran would not confirm what further powers would be devolved to Scotland in the event of a no vote in the independence referendum but it is understood that Labour’s Devolution Commission will publish their first interim report at their Scottish conference in April. * Today’s newspaper edition wrongly stated that Ms Curran’s Discovery Point Q&A was held on Wednesday. We would like to confirm that it takes place tonight, March 7.

Angus & The Mearns

Shocking claims over stolen secret dossier on last Chief Constable of Tayside Police

April 8 2015

The theft of a secret dossier on the last chief constable of Tayside Police was not investigated properly, the woman who compiled the bombshell document has claimed. A spokesman for Angela Wilson was the assistant chief constable of Tayside Police when Justine Curran was chief constable. She compiled the dossier on her superiors after a raft of anonymous complaints were made about the professionalism of Ms Curran and her deputy. Now, a week after retiring from the force, she has revealed for the first time how she felt betrayed by the way the investigation into the theft from her office was handled. Ms Wilson confirmed she is lodging an official complaint with watchdog the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) about the case. In an exclusive interview with The Courier, she claims many within Tayside Police felt Ms Curran was more concerned with her next job than doing the best job for the people of Tayside. Ms Curran’s tenure as chief constable of Tayside was dogged by allegations of misconduct, centring on unprofessional texts she sent to her personal assistant about the size of a colleague’s manhood. Members of the now defunct Tayside Police Joint Board were also sent an anonymous document from “Friends of Tayside Police” regarding the allegedly unprofessional behaviour of Ms Curran and then deputy chief constable Gordon Scobbie. The Courier revealed in May 2013 that a dossier collecting these allegations had been compiled by Ms Wilson but had been stolen from her office shortly before the creation of Police Scotland and the departures of Ms Curran and Mr Scobbie. Only a few employees of Tayside Police knew the code to access the secure corridor where the dossier was kept locked up in Ms Wilson’s office. But a nine-month investigation was unable to find a culprit or recover the dossier, despite officers from Strathclyde being brought in to Tayside to head up the probe. “It’s public knowledge there were a number of complaints regarding Justine Curran and I believe Mr Scobbie, which were anonymous complaints that came from a number of different sources, I believe,” Ms Wilson said. “Just because something is anonymous does not mean it is not true. “In my view, particularly in the service, people will report things anonymously because they are fearful of standing up and being counted. “There’s no way I would have spoken out before leaving the service for fear that somebody would interpret it as being a disciplinary offence.” Ms Wilson said the original complaints about the behaviour of both Ms Curran and Mr Scobbie were not taken seriously enough. “In my view those complaints were never fully and properly investigated. Maybe that was for political reasons because we were about to come to the end of Tayside Police? They maybe thought what’s the point? “It’s also public knowledge that a file was taken from my office. That has never been detected but I can tell you it was not somebody external. “That file did relate to complaints against Justine Curran and Gordon Scobbie. “And I have made a complaint to the SPA about the quality of that investigation.” Ms Wilson said the lack of interest in pursuing the theft of the dossier soured her relationship with the police. “What that did for me, it actually made me feel quite unwell because I felt my trust in the integrity of the service was eroded.” Ms Wilson said many senior officers in Tayside were unhappy with the leadership of Justine Curran and Gordon Scobbie. “I don’t think they were motivated by delivering the best service they could to Tayside Police,” she said. “I think they both saw it as a stepping stone to other things. “Did I find it difficult to work with them? Yes.” Attempts to reach Ms Curran on Tuesday via Humberside Police were unsuccessful and Mr Scobbie could not be reached for comment.


Games jam played out well in Dundee

September 25 2016

Dundee  developers have come up with new virtual reality games in just 24 hours as part of a competition. A games jam took place from 4pm on Thursday until 4pm on Friday at Tag Games, resulting in games prototypes with names like Spider Spider, Mouse of Horrors and Terminal Station. The developers also created their own answer to the famous Boaty McBoatface, with a game titled Vanny McVanFace. Virtual reality, a form of technology that simulates a player's presence in a replica of a real environment, is said to be the future of games with some VR versions already present in many living rooms. Tag's marketing executive Gavin Moffat said: "At the games jam, staff split into four teams of four people - a designer, an artist and programmers. "They then had 24 hours to design a game prototype. "You would struggle to design a full game in that time, although it could be done if you're extremely good and the game is simple. "But with a prototype, you could then spend months perfecting and polishing it into a full game. "Some really great ideas can come out of these jam - you have to be creative and work fast. It was a great event. "This time the theme was virtual reality. Virtual reality headsets are already being used but it's difficult to say whether they'll become the default in gaming. "It could be the case that it's popular for a few years and then people get bored of it, or it could remain popular. "However, it certainly has great potential." Over the past 20 years Dundee has become an international hub for games developers with the world's biggest-selling video game - Grand Theft Auto - starting life in the city. Games jam are popular events where games developers get together to brainstorm ideas and create new prototypes within a short space of time.


Alex Salmond says the ‘bedroom tax’ is causing ‘great social misery’

October 17 2013

First Minister Alex Salmond used a meeting of leaders from around the UK at Downing Street to condemn the “bedroom tax”. Mr Salmond said the cut to housing benefit for households deemed to have a spare room was causing “great social misery” and could end up costing the taxpayer money rather than helping to tackle the deficit. Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael, attending his first meeting of the joint ministerial council said the talks had been “businesslike and professional” but “there are issues on which we have differences, that’s no great secret”. The meeting was chaired by David Cameron and attended by Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones and Northern Ireland’s Peter Robinson and his deputy Martin McGuinness.Before the summit, shadow Scottish secretary Margaret Curran said: “What Scots need tomorrow is action to tackle the cost-of-living crisis, not more grandstanding from Alex Salmond and David Cameron.” But Mr Salmond said: “If Margaret Curran’s asking me to agree with David Cameron on the bedroom tax, she is gravely mistaken. “The way you deal with the bedroom tax is to persuade the Government that this is a socially iniquitous imposition on people and something that should be reversed. “If they are not prepared to reverse it now, then it has to be mitigated and to get it mitigated we have to know what the discretionary housing payments are for next year. “You can’t have meetings where you nod your head when something outrageous like the bedroom tax is being imposed on some of the most vulnerable families in Scotland.” Mr Carmichael said the talks had been “very positive and constructive” and he was keen to maintain a working relationship with the Scottish Government. “It shouldn’t be a question of coming to London once a year, I’m keen to keep lines of communication as open and lively as possible,” he said.